Junior doctors in Wales are to be granted enhanced expense entitlements when moving home for work, following extensive negotiations by the BMA.
Changes to the travel and relocation expenses policy will mean that trainees will have access to greater benefits and support when relocating, or travelling further, as a result of their rotations to new hospital sites.
The change represents the culmination of more than a year’s worth of negotiations between the BMA WJDC (Welsh junior doctors committee), HEIW (Health Education and Improvement Wales), NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership and trainee representatives.
Under the terms of the previous policy, doctors were required to provide quotes from three removal firms when moving home, could only be reimbursed for a limited number of trips to visit family and had to provide receipts for all transactions.
Important changes to the policy secured in negotiations include:
- Significant reductions in the amount of red tape and administrative burden involved in the claiming process
- An extension of the time period for making claims and the introduction of a transparent process to account for rejected claims
- Trainees who are relocating and who are first-time buyers will be able to claim for fees associated with buying their property
- Trainees who have relocated temporarily will be entitled to claim travel expenses to visit their permanent home to keep an eye on their property, stay in touch with friends and see loved ones.
As a result of negotiations, WJDC was also able to secure a commitment to a further review of the policy by August next year, with a view to increasing the annual allowance and allowing the rollover of unused funds from previous training years.
WJDC chair Josie Cheetham said the revisions to the existing policies would lead to a significant improvement in the terms and conditions enjoyed by junior doctors relocating to or within Wales.
She said: ‘Junior doctors incur a considerable degree of financial and non-financial costs as a result of the often frequent location changes required as part of their lengthy training programmes.
‘We know this has a sizeable effect on their wellbeing and their families at a time when junior doctors report a high level of burnout as a reason for stepping away from training.
‘WJDC firmly believes that junior doctors in Wales should not have to incur any financial ramifications from the relocation requirements mandated in order to complete training and this is both integral in promoting their wellbeing and also in ensuring Wales is a place where junior doctors wish to train and stay.’
She added: ‘We are pleased that HEIW recognises this, and that this revised policy reduces the burdens on junior doctors faced with relocating.’
HEIW medical director Professor Push Mangat strongly welcomed the changes saying that he hoped they would make a real difference to junior doctors.
He said: ‘Revising this policy has always been a priority for HEIW. It’s very important trainees feel supported while training with us in Wales.
‘This revised policy, supported by the BMA, Welsh Government and NHS Wales, has been designed specifically to help our trainees easily access their relocation expenses. We’ll be monitoring how well it works over the next twelve months with the intention of making further changes.’
Read more: NHS Wales information on relocation expenses for training grade doctors
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